AW16G Audio Workstation (Recording Magazine, February 2003)

7/13/2007 [Live Sound]

Flexible Options Abound In This All-In-One Recorder


amaha has had success in the stand-alone DAW recorder arms race, first with its powerful and professional AW4416 and then with the smaller AW2816 (reviewed in our February 2001 and March 2002 issues). The AW16G promises to be an equally serious contender among the small but powerful all-in-one entry-level recorders.


Flexible recording options abound in this all-in-one recorder



The AW16G is a 16-track recorder that can record 8 inputs simultaneously. Each of the 16 audio tracks also has 8 virtual tracks for storing alternate takes. Then there are two tracks that form the stereo mixdown tracks. The recorder comes standard with a 20 Gigabyte hard disk and a CD-RW drive.

Inputs 1 and 2 are phantom-powered (switchable) XLR connectors for both mic and line, inputs 3 to 7 are 1/4" line/mic, input 8 has two 1/4" jacks, one a balanced mic/line, the other a high-impedance guitar input. Outputs include left and right aux outputs and left and right stereo monitor outputs, all on 1/4", and a stereo 1/4" headphone jack. Also on the rear panel is the optical digital (S/PDIF) I/O, MIDI I/O and the proprietary power connection which runs to a line lump power supply.

The front panel contains gain knobs and arming buttons for the 8 inputs, a bank of 8 navigation buttons, a large LCD display with controls for the loop sampler below it, and five push-knobs (for controlling eq, dynamics settings, sends, etc.) with selector buttons next to them. Next to the push-knobs are the jog wheel, the navigational arrow keys and other associated buttons. Below them are the transport, autopunch and autolocate controls. Finally the AW16G features 13 faders: 8 for the first 8 mono channels, 4 for the 4 stereo paired chan-nels, and a master fader. The faders are accompanied by buttons that double for record-arm, mute and other functions.

The AW16G offers processing power in abundance. Each chan-nel, including the input channels, has fully parametric 4-band eq and dynamics processing. There is also a pair of stereo effects, a mastering section for processing stereo mixes, and a loop sampler with 4 sample pads—the AW16G comes with a CD-R containing over 250 MB of samples. The loop sampler can record directly from the inputs, from recorded sound stored on the hard disk or from sampling or audio CDs. The whole process is simple and effective.

The AW16G also offers the typical editing features of a desktop hard disk recorder. One can copy, move, exchange, time-compress, and pitch shift to your heart's content. Copying between tracks (and virtual tracks) is easy—just define the start and end times of the section to be copied and the start time of the destination and hit Execute. Copies, etc. happen pretty quickly, and there's a history list with multiple levels of Undo and Redo.

AW16G Back Panel

In use

The AW16G is a pretty intuitive beast. Hit the record navigation button, arm the input you want to record and then arm the track you want it recorded to, then hit Record and Play on the transport and sing or play away. Editing track parameters is as easy as hitting the view button and then scrolling around and changing stuff with the jog wheel.

The push-knobs each correspond to a processing feature. For instance, push-ing the first knob will bring up the eq display, the second knob the dynamics controls, etc.The knobs also adjust parameters even when those parameters are in another display. For example, adjusting the dynamics knob changes the overall output level of that track by adjusting several parameters in the compressor section, simultaneously brings up the level and increases compression ratio and threshold. It almost functions like the compression knob on an optical limiter. Very handy, intuitive, and it actually sounds good.

The effects processors have everything from reverbs and delays to amp simulators and can be inserted on any channel (including the stereo bus) or set up on the fx sends. All the sounds produced by the effects processors are good-sounding; however, the amp simulations are a bit noisy.

Each of the effects processors, the eq section and the dynamics section have libraries which include presets, and the user can create and save presets as well. There is also snapshot automation that captures all the current settings of all of the parameters. Dynamic automation can be achieved using an external MIDI sequencer to record fader moves, etc. The AW16G can also be used as a MIDI remote controller for computer sequencers or other MIDI-controllable devices.

AW16G Banner

Sound and sundries

The AW16G features 24-bit convert-ers that operate at 44.1 kHz sampling rate, but the recorder will only store 16-bit word lengths. While we are usually suspicious of systems that truncate bit widths, the AW16G did not seem to audibly suffer from the truncation. If one were to layer dozens and dozens of tracks via multiple bounces the truncation noise might begin to be a problem, but in most situations we were unable to discern a problem.

The AW16G has a few additional features. An oscillator with several typical test tones (including white noise) can also provide the pitch of A 440 as an option, somewhat offsetting the lack of a built-in tuner. There's a metronome that sounds somewhat like a high (on beat one) and low clave. The built-in CD-RW allows burning of audio CDs in Track-At-Once and Disc-At-Once Modes, writes data CDs for backup, and can be used for the ripping of audio CDs for sampling.


This is a feature-laden multitrack-er/ sampler/CD burner at a very competitive price. Its portability, 16-track capability (with 8 virtuals per track), its ability to record 8 tracks at once, and the added sampling features make it a versatile contender for recording live or in personal studios.

Price: $1299

For more information:

Yamaha Corporation of America
6600 Orangethorpe Ave., Buena Park, CA 90620
Phone: 714-522-9011
Fax: 714-522-9522

Excerpted from the February 2003 edition of RECORDING magazine. ©2003 Music Maker Publications, Inc. Reprinted with permission.
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Tel:  (303) 516-9118
Fax: (303) 516-9119

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AW16G 16-Track Digital Audio Workstation

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